QUEBEC — Members of Quebec’s Muslim community said Wednesday they welcomed the first public statements by the parents of a man accused of shooting dead six men in a mosque last January.
Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette, in a letter sent to Radio-Canada and published Wednesday, described the actions of their son, Alexandre, as ”inexcusable” and “totally inexplicable.”
But the parents of the accused killer said they stood by their child.
“Alexandre is still our son whom we love and who will always be a part of our family,” they wrote in a letter released by the French-language public broadcaster. “Like all parents, we hoped to see him succeed and be happy in life.
“In a way, we have also lost a son.”
The letter mentions a Montreal-area imam whose 2017 eulogy during the funeral service for the slain men received worldwide attention.
Bissonnette’s parents thanked Hassan Guillet, who said last year in a speech shared widely online, that the shooter was also a victim.
“Alexandre, before being a killer he was a victim himself,” Guillet told mourners in Quebec City in 2017. ”Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets, in his head.”
Guillet saluted the parents’ letter, during an interview.
“I am happy they sent the letter and salute their courage,” he said. “I was waiting for it. Not necessarily today, but the healing process is different for everyone. It was important what they did, not just for them, but for others.”
Bissonnette is facing 12 charges, including six counts of first-degree murder, and his trial is scheduled to begin on March 26.
Six men were killed in the attack: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Khaled Belkacemi, 60, Aboubaker Thabti, 44, Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, and Ibrahima Barry, 39.
Nineteen other people were injured, five of them seriously.